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What a difference a day makes…

So we’ve made it to 2016! All the wonders and woes of 2015 are officially behind us and it’s a brand new year ahead of us.

What better way to start than by wishing you all a happy new year!

happy new year 2

You may have noticed I’ve also started the year with a new Facebook page header:

cheetah

We went to Banham Zoo back in October to visit the Boyf’s sponsored snow leopard, and I came away in love with the two cheetahs in the neighbouring enclosure. They are gorgeous and have such cheeky personalities, I think they’ll be next on the sponsor list!

For Christmas this year I scaled up two of my Gran’s photos as 50cm canvases for my Mum. My favourite is the photo of my grandparents shelling peas in the garden. They would have been in their late teens/early twenties and it’s one of the only ones where they’ve been caught unaware, rather than posing for the camera!

IMG112 to print

As I’d been looking at this photo so much over the last few weeks, I couldn’t help but try my own version.

shelling peas2

Seeing these side by side, it’s easier to spot what I still need to improve on, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction!

This week I treated myself to a couple of late Christmas presents in the shape of a couple of art books. I had done a little illustration before nipping to the shops, and after reading the books that evening, I wanted to try again the next day.

bubbles

Hopefully, it’s obvious that the before is on the left and the after is on the right! The improvement was, in part, what inspired the title of the post, as I was humming the song to myself as I painted on the second day, pleased with the change in just 24 little hours!

So I hope this is a sign of the year to come, filled with improvement and of course, bubbles!

x

Christmas Eve!

It’s finally Christmas Eve; the day for last minute present-buying, milk and cookies for Father Christmas and when the scent of mulled wine should fill the whole house!

I’ve given up hope of a white Christmas, but I can still imagine crunching through freshly fallen snow, with a present-laden sledge behind me as I deliver the gifts ready for the early risers on Christmas morning.

presents

Although, admittedly, none of my family are in walking distance and I’d probably complain the whole journey about being cold and having wet feet… but then again, that’s what your imagination is for!

x

Meeting under the mistletoe

Being the weekend before Christmas, the party season should be well underway…

 

mistletoe

I hope you all take advantage of the mistletoe!

x

The little bits and pieces post

I’m now fully embracing the start of the festive season, so while I busy myself away with snowflakes, christmas trees and holly, here are some unrelated bits and pieces that have flowed from my paintbrush.

rosie

I decided I wanted to update my attempted self-portrait for my about page and Facebook, but every attempt looked the same… and none of them looked like me!

Before you worry I’ve gone a little bit crazy, this obviously isn’t a self-portrait, in fact, in my head, she’s called Rosie, I think it suits her. But I did want to try drawing in a slightly different style, and this was my first attempt at a more caricaturised approach and it really helped me to be more adventurous and create the new self-portrait you can now see on those pages! (Confession – I’ve given self-portrait me much more fabulous hair than real-life me)

paris

Admittedly, I painted this a few years ago, and it’s one I was planning on redoing before sharing, but after the recent events in Paris I wanted to share it to show my support.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have been an isolated incident, with further threats since and the bomb attacks the day earlier in Beirut, but in the face of this, it’s great to see so much unity shown across social media by so many.

dream big

Social media sometimes seems flooded with feel good sayings and quotes, and amongst this sea of inspirational buzz words this is the one that’s really stuck out for me.

I meant for it to be the start of a collection of nursery illustrations, but once it was finished, I couldn’t quite bring myself to give it away! My mum has always told me you can be anything you want to be, so it felt destined to stay with me as a little reminder.

gran

This was meant to be a quick sketch based on a photo of my Gran, but I couldn’t help but add some colour to bring it to life. However, my Gran is far more fashionable than I have ever been, so I doubt that the dress and jacket were actually a rosy pink!

There are endless, beautiful photos of my Gran in her late teens/early twenties in glamourous poses with her hair perfectly styled, a beautiful smile on her face and gorgeous fifties clothing. My Grandad was an avid photographer and it’s obvious my Gran loved having her photo taken, so I feel incredibly lucky to have so many photos of her.

grecian alphonse

This was inspired by the Alphonse Mucha art nouveau paintings, but as I started painting, it seemed to take on a life of it’s own, so it’s only really the halo that shows the original inspiration.

Despite not at all matching my expectations, the more I look at it, I think this might actually be one of my favourite paintings! I hope you like her too.

x

Changing seasons

And so autumn has arrived, with more of a damp plop than a dramatic fanfare…

I love a bit of autumn, with it’s crunchy leaves and the perfect excuse to wrap up in a snuggly scarf, but I am not so keen on it rolling in with endless rain and drizzle in August. We should have had until September at least to enjoy the last of the sunshine!

Being back in the office has made me realise that time passes in a very strange way working from home, each day draws out for an eternity, but weeks pass by in a flash! It feels like so long ago that I was stretched out on a blanket on the lawn sketching, reading and taking endless photos of the cats, when in reality, it was maybe a few weeks ago at most.

Lounging at home with the cats I remembered the happiness illustrations I did last year and I decided on another one to add to the list:

lazy daysI cannot wait for the sunshine to come back and the day when I have a garden big enough for a tree and a hammock to enjoy it in – the luxury!

Weeks ago when it was still summer, I was making the most of the sunshine, raspberry picking with my Mum, where I was determined to hone my camera skills.

IMG_0267This lovely little bee seemed quite happy to pose for me in the flowers while I tried to find the right camera setting. I have a feeling it may have been a distraction technique while the surrounding wasps targeted all the raspberries we’d gathered and did their best to terrorise Mum.

We also stopped off at Happisburgh (that’s pronounces hays-bruh, for any non-Norfolk-folk) lighthouse on the way back

IMG_0270It was an amazing day with miles of blue skies and a gentle breeze coming off the sea and yet another opportunity to whip out the camera for a few more photos. I’m determined to improve my photo taking now that I have a fancy camera. I think the main obstacle is going to be lugging it around, it’s so cumbersome!

Of course no North-ish Norfolk jaunt is worth it’s weight in salt without stopping by my favourite riverside house.

rainbows end

Not that you can actually see the river from this view! I am determined to keep painting this house until I can finally get across the warmth, happiness and homeliness that I associate with it. Painting this house is becoming my white whale!

On a slightly less frustrating note, whilst thinking about rivers I came across an image of a woodland river with a beautiful stone bridge running through that felt perfect the front page of my newest sketchbook.

river

The scene felt like it was straight from a fairytale, a story of good versus evil and the discovery of magical creatures. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a sucker for a good fairytale!

So I guess that’s the last of summer for another year, it was short but sweet and I am so happy that I got to spend so much of it outside enjoying the sunshine. Now we’re on to autumn and I’ve got a new scarf to wrap up in and I’m on the hunt for some new boots to keep my feet dry. I hope you made the most of the sunshine while it lasted and you have a reliable brolly ready for the next season!

x

My thank you post

This time last year, after 4 years of working with the same company straight out of uni, I handed in my notice.

Work had became a home from home and a reassuring constant as I moved between 7 homes in 3 years and travelled back and forth every weekend to see the boyf, so handing in my notice was like cutting the strings and seeing whether I could stand on my own two feet. It’s a relief to say, I’m still standing!

I had so much support in making that decision and I was fully prepared to fall flat on my face. I had nothing lined up after my notice period and didn’t think I knew enough people in the industry to reach out to other agencies. Luckily, it turns out that the people I did know were so fantastically generous with their time and connections!

Through their help, I have had the opportunity to meet with a variety of agencies and work on some great projects. Happily, each agency I’ve worked with has asked me to come back to work on further projects, so I’m doing something right!

I realise this isn’t really a post about art, but I thought that if the only thing I can complain about recently is a lack of inspiration with my paintbrush and having to stay an extra night in Paris due to strikes, then I am obviously in a good place right now, so I wanted to celebrate and share it with you. I am so thankful and grateful for the support you have all given me this year, so I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you!

x

thank you stars

Summer painting update

Over the last few months I haven’t been painting very much due to a mixture of working hard and lack of inspiration. But now that the sun is out and I’m managing to sneak more days at home, I’m trying to track down some inspiration and rediscover my pencils and paints.

So here are a few things that I’ve been painting recently:

bakery dog

This is based on an instagram pic of a cheeky little labrador at a bakery window. I’m still going through a painting cute animals phase, so this popped onto my feed at just the right time! I update my instagram more often than the blog or Facebook, so follow me on instagram for more frequent updates!

Talking of cute animals, I went to see Jurassic World at the cinema last weekend, which inspired a little birthday card that I did for my cousin’s little boy.

dino cardPersonally, I think little dinosaurs are adorable, but that might just be me! I’m thinking of doing a few more of these to make a cute little group as my go to for young age cards.

Another card I did this month was for my friend who recently moved in with her boyfriend:

congrats card

I’ve only met her boyfriend once so far (I know, I’m a terrible friend), but they seem very happy together, so I’m really excited for them!

The final painting I’m going to share is a quick sneak peak…

sneak peek

I’ve been working on a name illustration for a different cousin’s little boy (I have a lot of cousins), with a riverside theme, so this is a little snippet of the final thing.

This is the fifth name illustration I’ve done (I’ve previously shared Hattie’s on my Facebook page and Ella’s here) and it is definitely my favourite thing to paint! I’ll share them all in my next post, once I’ve given this one to it’s new owner.

I’m always open to requests, so if you know anyone who’s nursery or child’s room is missing that something special, please get in touch!

x

Happy Egg Hunting Day!

Happy Easter everyone!

happy easter

We had an early Easter gift yesterday when my mum and step-dad came over wielding an arsenal of garden tools to help us tackle our jungle of a garden!

The boyf pointed out we should have taken a before picture, as it was truly a huge mess, but now we have proper borders, healthy plants, a tidy little lawn and cute hedge ball things! Weeds have been scared away, wild honeysuckle has been tamed and we actually used our outdoors tap for the first time (turns out it wasn’t covered in as many spider webs as we thought)!

garden

So although it isn’t quite egg-hunt ready yet, by summer it will be the perfect sunbathing and barbecuing spot!

I hope you all have a day filled with egg hunting, chocolate and bunnies :) and I’ll leave you with this little close up as he’s just so cute!

x

happy easter crop

Work hard, relax hard – wait, that doesn’t sound right…

March began with a two week project in Geneva and ended with two glorious weeks relaxing at home. This was the first time I’d been onsite for 15 days and it felt like such a long time – I am definitely a homebody at heart!

Once the project got going, the production team left for home and I stayed on with the group of martial artists and a physio. The martial artists were all lovely and very different people and the physio was brilliant, keeping my spirits up and keeping me sane! As quite a shy person, spending a fortnight with a group of strangers was quite intimidating, but luckily (this is not the right word), we were all in such a small cosy room, we got to know each other very quickly and it taught me a few things about myself:

1. I should be less vocal about my love of all things Disney – it makes people think your head is filled with fluffy kittens and rainbows…

2. I will never be comfortable in business clothes – jeans for the win

3. I have an entirely impractical selection of shoes – the comfy ones don’t quite have the grip for walking on wooden ramps and the smart ones leave me with no feeling in my toes!

4. I should spend more time with groups of people my age – it turns out they are lots of fun

5. I am awful at quick fire questions – when asked what is the thing I use too much of and should live without, most people answered ‘mobile phone’ or ‘the internet’… I said moisturiser… seriously, who says that, it doesn’t even make sense?!

Anyway, here is a little sketch of the performance, just as the heroine beckons the baddies towards her so she can take them down! We had two female ninjas throughout the performance run and they were both so impressive and fierce, it was amazing to watch!

geneva 2015

So after two weeks of going bright red when answering any quick fire questions and losing my patience a few times with bad time keeping, the boyf met me at the airport and brought me home.

The plan for being back at home was to get back into a routine of yoga, reading blogs, painting and building on contacts for future projects… Two out of four isn’t too bad…

One of my favourite blogs that I wanted to catch up on was the Skunkboy blog, my sketch below is inspired by one of the Autumn outfits Katie wore last year. It’s such a cute blog, with crafts, fashion and little updates on her family life, and not least her gorgeous hairstyles, which I’m sure many of you will have seen on pinterest!

skunkboy inspired

Also, as the boyf was banned from watching any of my (numerous) tv shows while I was away, our planner was stacked, so I’ve spent quite a few pyjama days indulging on everything I’ve missed! One that I’ve especially enjoyed is Indian Summers, about British rule in India in the 1930s. I’ve found the storyline pretty addictive and I love the 30s fashion. This sketch is inspired by one of the characters, Leena, and admittedly it looks a little like a passport photo, but I thought I’d share it anyway!

indian summers

Now that I’m fully recuperated after 2 weeks of (let’s be honest) laziness, I’m determined to be more productive with my days at home. I’m hopefully working on a project with another agency in the coming weeks, (which I am beyond excited about!) and I have projects pencilled in until the end of the year, so now that I don’t have to worry too much about finding work, I am going to fill my home-days with some painting projects to share on the blog!

So, hopefully we can expect some more regular illustration updates both here and on my Facebook page!

Finally, here is the painted version of a sketch I shared in the January post – I normally do sketching and painting in separate batches, so sketches can go naked for weeks before seeing any paint!

x

jan bench

Working from home – I could get used to this!

This month, I’ve had a lot of days working from home, which I absolutely love! No more 3 hour daily commute, no more 6am starts and no more worrying about bad hair days – what more could I want!

To help me to try to concentrate and get into work-mode while I’m at home, I’m trying to turn part of the spare room into a little office space with a cute little desk and some pretty art prints on the wall – I know, I’m a walking Pinterest cliche!

I’ve started my collection by treating myself to the most amazing Audrey Hepburn sketch by Ileana Hunter, its so gorgeous and Ileana’s based in Norwich, so I’m loving supporting a local artist! I’m looking forward to growing my collection, so let me know if you see any great illustrations, art or sketches I could add on my wall.

In the meantime, I’m trying a few different things in my sketchbook as I’d love to add a few of my own illustrations to the wall! Firstly, is Hoot my purpley little owl, isn’t he cute?!

hoot

I’ve also been doing some more ladies, such as the below, who’s based on a Ginger Rogers pose.

ginger

And the below, which I still need to finish!

leaning

I’ve also been trying to think of some more postcard ideas based on the broads, and I thought, what better to focus on than my favourite place on the broads.

I love this house, so I wanted to give it warm, bold colours and lots of life by trying a different style using ink outlines and painting wet on wet. It feels warm and sunny, but it’s not quite how I expected! I think it just needs a few more attempts, then I’ll get there.

rainbows end

So after nearly a month of working from home, I’m going to Geneva on Saturday for just over two weeks for work. I can’t remember the last time I went away for longer than a week, so I am not looking forward to packing… which I was meant to have started today…

Two weeks of smart client-safe clothes… eek! I’m going to have to empty the wardrobe and do a mega trying-on session this evening, and even worse, I’ve already heard that it’s super cold onsite from some of the crew already out there. Snuggly socks and a woolly hat are apparently a must have, which I’m sure will look great with my work dresses!

Then hopefully, when I’m back home with my puss cats and the boyf, Spring will finally be on its way here!

x

spring bear